Prepare for the “Dot What?” Onslaught!

Domain names are about to undergo a significant modification that you need to be aware of.  Historically, there have only been a limited number of top level domains (TLDs).  TLDs are the very last part of a domain name.  You are probably familiar with .com (originally intended for multinational companies), .net (for networks), .org (for non-profit organizations), .edu (for educational institutions), .gov (for government agencies), and maybe even .mil (for the military).  Each country has a TLD, originally intended for companies operating within that country, such as .us (for the United States), .ca (Canada), .uk (United Kingdom) and .mx (Mexico).  As the number of names taken within each TLD increased, others were created such as .biz and .info to allow for more names.  These new ones never caught on as well as the originals.  A “real” business has a .com address, not a .biz one.

We now transition from the limited TLD era to the wild west of TLDs.  Starting next week, ICANN (the folks who control names and registrars) will allow the use of other approved names — including those in non-Latin alphabets such as Arabic and Chinese.    So get ready for .bike, .guru, .singles, .sexy, .tips, .recipes and more over the next month or so.  Around 2,000 applications have been submitted for consideration.  Many large companies were essentially forced to apply for their own names to protect them (imagine someone else registering websites with .pepsi as the TLD?).

Want to register your own name or company name as a TLD?  It will cost you.  The application fee is US$185,000.  Decimal dust for the Googles of the world, but a house for many.

Will these new names stick?  .com is still the gold standard and .biz has not taken off.  Will people accept as a domain name?  Will people even recognize it as a domain name (let alone software which converts .com text to a link)?  Should ICANN have expanded use of second level domain names instead?

The wild west is here.  And it starts next week.

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